Based on dollars and cents, the NFL’s push for improved on-field safety through rules changes is working.
FOX Sports 1 has learned that player fines for safety-related infractions averaged $60,000 per team in 2013. That is a significant drop from the $95,000-per-team average in 2012.
NFL franchises also took less of a hit to their bank accounts.
The league’s club remittance policy required that any team whose players exceeded $105,000 in fines for safety rule infractions during the 2013 season had to remit $50,000 to the NFL. Those franchises also needed to pay an additional $25,000 and match any subsequent fine or suspension amounts if the season total reached $157,000 (The most a player fine or suspension could count against the team total was $50,000.)
FOX Sports 1 has learned that the clubs required to remit dropped to four in 2013 from nine in 2012.
The NFL, which recently tabulated its final fine totals for 2013 after players completed the appeals process, declined to identify which teams were forced to remit. But based upon 2013 compilations on the Spotrac.com, Detroit and Tampa Bay are likely two of the four franchises. Buccaneers safety Dashon Goldson and Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh exceeded six figures in fines and/or lost salary due to suspension.
The biggest NFL rules changes in recent seasons have focused on reducing contact to the head and neck areas of players. The NFL also has installed stronger medical protocols for players to receive clearance to return after concussions.
In addition, the league has created a head, neck and spine committee featuring medical experts in those areas as well as a player safety advisory committee led by Pro Football Hall of Fame members John Madden and Ronnie Lott that reports to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Such changes have stemmed from an attempt to curtail the league’s concussion epidemic and prevent the same medical issues that led to a class-action lawsuit against the NFL by more than 4,700 retired players claiming varying degrees of brain damage. A $765 million settlement was reached last August but remains unapproved by a federal judge, leaving the possibility that the lawsuit may ultimately be reopened.